It is with these powerful words that Special Olympics Global Messenger Ariel Ary from Costa Rica opened his keynote address at the 97th Lions Clubs International Convention -District Governor Elect School (LCI-DGE). Captivating some 1,500 leaders Lions Clubs International leaders from across the world, Ary highlighted the key role that civic leaders like Lions Clubs play in empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities through the growing Special Olympics & Lions Clubs International global partnership.
“I am very honored to be here with all of you, people who believe in teamwork as a key to success. People who believe in helping others…Lions clubs around the world set the standards for respect, excellence, and solidarity. People in need have better lives because you, Lions clubs, care for them. That is why I am here to tell you Lions clubs- never, ever, ever give up!”
Ary underscored the many challenges that he and his parents have faced in accessing quality health care, mainstream education, and an integrated community life. Despite the recommendation made by the doctors to his parents upon birth, Ary’s story represents the strong determination, perseverance, and drive that defines the lives of countless individuals with intellectual disabilities and their parents and caretakers. Ary speaks 4 languages, is a dedicated tennis player, an accomplished international speaker, and currently works at the multinational company IBM-Costa Rica.
The keynote delivered by Ary served as a strong expression of gratitude and excitement to Lions Clubs throughout the world for their continued support of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Through the shared partnership with Special Olympics, titled “Mission: Inclusion”, Lions Clubs International has helped provide a myriad of opportunities to athletes, including quality vision care, inclusive sports opportunities, early childhood development programming, family support, and much more.
Ary’s leadership is but one example of the impact that can be made through this partnership. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next!
Read the original blog post online here.
Lions Clubs International Foundation has been partnering with Special Olympics International since 2001 through the Opening Eyes program to provide free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide. Athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eye wear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes. The partnership expanded in 2013 to reach even more people.
With 1.35 million members in over 200 countries and geographic locations, Lions everywhere are making a difference in their communities every day. Every life a Lions member touches – whether a young girl who learns to read through a Lions literacy initiative, or a man who receives the eye care he needs to finally see his family clearly – is an amazing story about passion, dedication and service.
The Lions Blog is about sharing these stories. Are you a Lion with a successful service activity to share? Has a Lions club or member changed your life? We want to hear from you!
Download our Contributor Guidelines to learn what kind of stories we’re looking for.
Guide dogs might be cute and cuddly, but when they’re guiding their owners to safety, they’re at work. The video above features members of the Chestermere Lions Club in Alberta, Canada, who are big supporters of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides and are working to get the word out about respecting guide dogs at work. That means giving them the attention they need to do their job — instead of petting or playing with them, which distracts the dogs from the task at hand, people should be aware of their presence and react accordingly.
Watch the video to learn more!
When I became president of Lions Clubs International, it was a dream come true. Now, I am honored to follow another dream as Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation. The Foundation is a vital part of Lions’ international service efforts, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this year with support from LCIF.
Last year, LCIF set a goal to raise US$35.7 million in funding to meet Lions’ humanitarian needs worldwide. I am proud to say that you hit that mark! More than ever, Lions are involved in service projects to meet the needs of their communities. LCIF has seen an increase in requests for disaster relief assistance in recent years; Lions Quest continues to expand around the world, reaching more students than ever; we continue to fight preventable blindness, including from diseases like trachoma and river blindness; and we continue in our commitment to our partners at the GAVI Alliance in fighting measles, among many other humanitarian projects.
Your contributions have helped people all around the world by providing disaster relief, saving sight, preventing measles, supporting youth and meeting humanitarian needs. To be able to help even more people, we have a new goal to raise US$38.3 million for LCIF and I know that we will be able to achieve it. In fact, I am going to challenge you to set the goal even higher!
What if every Lions club donated US$100 per member to LCIF? We would raise US$136 million – imagine all of the good that could be done with those funds! As Lions, we can do almost anything. By working together, we can help each other to follow our dreams for a better world. You can make a difference, and LCIF can help.
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Last week Joni and I visited Nairobi, Kenya, where Lions of District 411A are already joining in the Centennial Service Challenge — celebrating 100 years of service by helping us reach our goal of serving 100 million by December 2017.
We started off the beautiful morning with songs, poems and dancing. At lunchtime, we participated in a Feeding the Hungry project, serving hot, nourishing meals to over 600 hungry children. It was such a pleasure meeting and feeding these children. Our next project was planting trees as a part of our Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) partnership. Joni and I planted the first of 9,000 trees! Think of how many people these trees will help over the years!
The Centennial Service Challenge asks Lions to serve people in need through our Global Service Action Campaigns: Engaging Our Youth, Sharing the Vision, Relieving the Hunger and Protecting Our Environment. I look forward to joining Lions across the globe in meeting this challenge!
How is your club participating in the Centennial Service Challenge?
Your International President,
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
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